By Reyne Rice, Trend Analyst and Trend Spotter, New York, NY USA
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
There are many new exciting trends in toys and games for 2013. Despite the hype from the media, not all of these products involve technology. Most are powered by imagination and creativity.
There is a wealth of products that appeal to ages from toddlers to teens. Many encourage inter-generational play, to include family and grandparent inter-action and engagement. The Topline trends in 2013 will be reviewed each day, in dedicated blogs for each trend, on www.yourtoycom.com. Here is a brief overview of what to expect:
1) Toys 3.0: The Next Generation at Play: These products have a dedicated ToyFair Special Exhibit Area at the 2013 Fair, located in the Entrance to Hall Mitte. There you can experience first-hand many of the newest innovations in technology toys & games.
These offerings include a wide spectrum of products that appeal to all ages, and across multiple categories and play patterns. They include toys containing digital or electronic elements, tablets for kids, products with augmented reality or 3D technologies built in, hybrid gaming platforms that merge physical toys with video gaming, winged and wheeled products that are controlled by iDevices, and robotic kits that teach kids to experiment with building and programming. Some products involve dedicated hardware, and others use software applications on the devices that consumers already own (Smartphones, mobile phones, iPods and tablets).
Spend time at the hands-on Toys 3.0 exhibits. Also, plan to attend the Toy Business Forum on Saturday, Feb 2nd, where the results of an exclusive multi-country Toys 3.0 consumer research study will be revealed, product trends will be highlighted, using visual 2013 examples, and a review of how families are engaging in digital play will be discussed.
2) Creative Lifestyle: Trendsetters at Play: The focus of this trend is on identifying those toy & game products that encourage personalization, creative expression and crafting a physical product or story. These might be related to jewelry or room décor, a foosball table or wooden creation, completion of arts & crafts and science experiments that reflect skill-building, or simply imaginative storytelling and role-playing. From toddlers to teens, kids want to have freedom of expression and this trend celebrates their uniqueness.
3) PlayTelligence: Whiz Kids at Play: This trend investigates many hands-on exploration and discovery products that engage kids in active play. From preschoolers to teens, the products in this segment promote the new emphasis on S.T.E.A.M.: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The products in this segment focus on making these topics come to life, with real-life scenarios. They test social and emotional intelligence, sports and body fitness, and 21st Century Skills like collaboration and teamwork, and becoming a good global citizen.
4) Eco-Friendly Toys: Nature at Play continues to be a sustainable topic, with many retailers and consumers carving out budgets for these types of products that promote eco-consciousness and respect for our natural resources. These include wooden and fabric toys, products and games made from recycled materials and those that educate children about what they can do, to take small steps toward protecting and preserving our environment.
5) Pop Culture/Entertainment: Aspiration at Play: Reviews the key influences on children’s choices for music, favorite celebrities, brands and character licenses. Lifestyle brands are also a part of this trend, as many children choose to be loyal to a particular brand that reflects their current view of the world. As children grow into the middle school years, they are trying on new roles and skills sets, and this is an important stage for them to experiment, build their own character and foster their unique talents.
6) Baby Basics: Fundamentals at Play focuses on all of those critical learning and developmental stages that babies and toddler experience in their first few years of life. Skills are learned from repetition, and practice. Shape-stacking and color-matching and learning to grasp products with their hands also encourages hand-eye coordination, and critical thinking. As they get older, they sit, stand and walk, and develop their larger motor skills. Through role-play and pretend play and when reading with their care-givers and parents, children develop verbal and literary skills and this promotes reading and school readiness. All of these are important lessons to learn, as they grow into curious preschoolers.
These are just a few of the trends we will be unveiling throughout the Fair, with examples of manufacturers and products who have created some innovative options. Please share what you see, and leave comments. With over a dozen Halls of products, and over One Million products on display, your trend-spotting will help to keep our readers aware of your offerings.